Why would Am­gen want to buy Alex­ion? An­a­lysts call hot­ly ru­mored takeover un­like­ly, but seize the mo­ment

A ru­mor that Am­gen is clos­ing in on buy­out deal for Alex­ion has sparked a guess­ing game on just what kind of M&A strat­e­gy Am­gen is pur­su­ing and how much Alex­ion is worth.

Mizuho an­a­lyst Sal­im Syed first lent cre­dence to the re­port out of the Span­ish news out­let In­tere­conomía, which said Am­gen is bid­ding as much as $200 per share. While the source may be ques­tion­able, “the con­cept of this hap­pen­ing doesn’t sound too crazy to me,” he wrote.

Alex­ion $ALXN, which opened at $113.6 Thurs­day, end­ed the day up 8% at $123.49.

The deal — or any fur­ther ev­i­dence of it — has yet to ma­te­ri­al­ize, and a num­ber of an­a­lysts are fill­ing the void with their own takes on why it prob­a­bly nev­er will.

Yaron Wer­ber Cowen

“In our view, such com­bi­na­tion does not make strate­gic sense and would not fit Am­gen’s strate­gic ma­trix,” Yaron Wer­ber of Cowen be­gan. “Such a deal would roll Am­gen back­wards just as it is be­gin­ning to see a new dawn of growth ahead.”

Cit­ing a con­ver­sa­tion with man­age­ment, Wer­ber added that Alex­ion — de­spite its lu­cra­tive rare dis­ease port­fo­lio — does not seem to check any box­es for Am­gen. The biotech’s or­phan fo­cus ap­pears at best an awk­ward fit to Am­gen’s ex­per­tise in on­col­o­gy, in­flam­ma­tion and car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­or­ders. More im­por­tant­ly, swal­low­ing Alex­ion and its Solirus cash cow would mean deal­ing with more patents and biosim­i­lars at a time Am­gen is try­ing to move away from lega­cy prod­ucts, he not­ed.

In fact, Am­gen is be­hind one of these biosim­i­lars go­ing af­ter Alex­ion’s star C5 an­ti­body, with a Phase III tri­al un­der­way.

Ge­of­frey Porges SVB Leerink

How­ev­er Am­gen would go about re­solv­ing that di­rect com­pe­ti­tion, those po­ten­tial FTC headaches or di­vesti­ture ef­forts don’t make it the most log­i­cal ac­quir­er of Alex­ion, SVB Leerink’s Ge­of­frey Porges wrote. But that doesn’t mean oth­ers shouldn’t con­sid­er it.

Seiz­ing on the op­por­tu­ni­ty to re­it­er­ate his bull­ish as­sess­ment of Alex­ion, he added that the com­pa­ny should be a prime can­di­date for com­pa­nies with the fire­pow­er to ex­e­cute a siz­able deal — and that $200 per share is a rea­son­able price.

At the end of the day, Porges sur­mised, the un­der­val­u­a­tion of Alex­ion stock was like­ly a rea­son why in­vestors were so ea­ger to seize on­to the ru­mored takeover.

(O)ur the­sis re­mains that if Alex­ion’s stock doesn’t nat­u­ral­ly ap­pre­ci­ate to­wards the range im­plied by this spec­u­la­tion, then ac­qui­si­tion spec­u­la­tion, and in­ter­est, will in­deed sur­face, thus fi­nal­ly gen­er­at­ing pos­i­tive re­turns for the com­pa­ny’s long-suf­fer­ing stock­hold­ers.

Mi­no­ryx and Sper­o­genix ink an ex­clu­sive li­cense agree­ment to de­vel­op and com­mer­cial­ize lerigli­ta­zone in Chi­na

September 23, 2020 – Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai (China) and Mataró, Barcelona (Spain)  

Minoryx will receive an upfront and milestone payments of up to $78 million, as well as double digit royalties on annual net sales 

Sperogenix will receive exclusive rights to develop and commercialize leriglitazone for the treatment of X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy (X-ALD), a rare life-threatening neurological condition

Vas Narasimhan (AP Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Still held down by clin­i­cal hold, No­var­tis' Zol­gens­ma falls fur­ther be­hind Bio­gen and Roche as FDA asks for a new piv­otal study

Last October, the FDA slowed down Novartis’ quest to extend its gene therapy to older spinal muscular atrophy patients by slapping a partial hold on intrathecal administration. Almost a year later, the hold is still there, and regulators are adding another hurdle required for regulatory submission: a new pivotal confirmatory study.

The new requirement — which departs significantly from Novartis’ prior expectations — will likely stretch the path to registration beyond 2021, when analysts were expecting a BLA submission. That could mean more time for Biogen to reap Spinraza revenues and Roche to ramp up sales of Evrysdi in the absence of a rival.

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David Berry (Flagship)

Flag­ship's next big tech­no­log­i­cal bet? The cloud

Earlier this month, Flagship announced their big bet on the software half the industry is talking about, launching the AI and machine learning startup. Now, they and a couple other investors are gambling $100 million on a software that much of the public generally thinks of as a cool, IT afterthought: cloud computing.

The idea, says founder and Flagship partner David Berry, is one of scale: The sheer magnitude of biological data that you can store on cloud technology is unprecedented. And that size, when leveraged properly, can allow you to ask questions and form insights that are similarly unprecedented.

Jim Roberts and Brian Finrow (Lumen Bioscience)

With a $4M fed­er­al grant, Lu­men jumps in­to the Covid-19 treat­ment race

It’s been less than a month since Lumen Bioscience announced a $16 million Series B to engineer spirulina — a nutrient-packed super food — for diseases like traveler’s diarrhea, norovirus and C. difficile colitis. And now, the biotech has pulled in another $4 million to do the same for Covid-19.

The approach is quite similar to other gastrointestinal targets the company is pursuing, co-founders and Brian Finrow and Jim Roberts said. The Seattle-based company is working on a camelid antibody cocktail to combat GI infection common among Covid-19 patients. In a study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, a majority of Covid-19 patients showed GI and respiratory symptoms, and 25% had only GI symptoms.

CEO Markus Warmuth (Monte Rosa)

Monte Rosa rakes in $96M Se­ries B as it pre­pares 'mol­e­c­u­lar glue' plat­form for IND-en­abling stud­ies

About four months after completing an extension to its Series A, Monte Rosa Therapeutics is putting its next foot forward with another heap of cash.

The Boston-based biotech is back with $96 million in Series B financing with a goal to get its lead program ready for IND-enabling studies by the end of the year. Though Monte Rosa is keeping its specific target a secret for now, the company has been researching how to utilize its protein degradation technology in breast cancer and non-small cell lung cancer, among other areas.

FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn at the White House (AP Images)

Un­der fire, FDA to is­sue stricter guid­ance for Covid-19 vac­cine EUA this week — re­port

The FDA has been insisting for months that a Covid-19 vaccine had to be at least 50% effective – a measure of transparency meant to shore public trust in the agency and in a vaccine that had been brought forward at record speed and record political pressure. But now, with concerns of a Trump-driven authorization arriving before the election, the agency may be raising the bar.

The FDA is set to release new guidance that would raise safety and efficacy requirements for a vaccine EUA above earlier guidance and above the criteria used for convalescent plasma or hydroxychloroquine, The Washington Post reported. Experts say this significantly lowers the odds of an approval before the election on November 3, which Trump has promised despite vocal concerns from public health officials, and could help shore up public trust in the agency and any eventual vaccine.

PhII Alzheimer's fail­ure deals new blow to Roche, AC Im­mune — but the tau hy­poth­e­sis is far from dead

The leading anti-tau antibody has failed its first Phase II testing, casting a shadow on a popular target (just trailing amyloid beta) for Alzheimer’s disease.

Roche and AC Immune are quick to acknowledge disappointment in the topline readout, which suggested that semorinemab did not reduce cognitive decline among patients with early Alzheimer’s disease, who are either just starting to have symptoms or have mild manifestations.

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Covid-19 roundup: J&J be­gins piv­otal Phase III tri­al for vac­cine; Con­tro­ver­sial hu­man chal­lenge tri­als to be­gin in Lon­don — re­port

Johnson & Johnson announced it’s beginning a pivotal Phase III trial for its Covid-19 candidate, JNJ-78436735 — the first single-dose vaccine in this stage.

The Phase III trial, dubbed ENSEMBLE, will enroll 60,000 patients worldwide, making it the largest Phase III study of a Covid-19 vaccine to date. J&J said the candidate achieved positive interim results in a Phase I/IIa study, which will be published “imminently.” There’s a possibility that the first batches will be ready for potential emergency use in early 2021, according to the company.

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Patrick Enright, Longitude co-founder (Longitude)

As its biotechs hit the pan­dem­ic ex­it, Lon­gi­tude rais­es $585M for new neu­ro, can­cer, ag­ing and or­phan-fo­cused fund

The years have been kind to Longitude Capital. This year, too.

A 2006 spinout of Pequot Capital, its founders started their new firm just four years before the parent company would go under amid insider trading allegations. Their first life sciences fund raised $325 million amid the financial crisis, they added a second for $385 million and then in, 2016, a third for $525 million. In the last few months, the pandemic biotech IPO boom netted several high-value exits from those funds, as Checkmate, Vaxcyte, Inozyme and Poseida all went public.

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